Does it irk you when Americans massacre the pronunciation of your perfectly wholesome Serbian name? It irks me. It frustrates me even more when American Serbs conform to the butchering of their own names to make it easier for non-Serbs. When Dušan becomes Dousanne or when Ivica become something to the effect of Eveekah. Or when Željko turn himself into Zelko. Am I expected to maim my centuries-old last name and turn Ivković into Ivkovick just because some people are refusing to try to hear me and pronounce it right?
This phenomenon pisses me off not because I don’t want to accept the fact that we, like numerous other groups of non-Anglophone immigrants, should adjust to the language and customs of the culture that dominate the country we decided to move to. Not at all. If you wanted to remain 100 percent Serbian, linguistically and culturally, you should have stayed in the Fatherland. (Even there, it’s increasingly more difficult, but that’s a different subject.) What bothers me is the general unwillingness to make an effort and adjust correctly, at least when it comes to personal names. There is a way to adjust more correctly and although it may not be perfect, Serbian immigrants of older generations, mainly those who arrived prior to the Communist takeover of Serb lands, have done it with more sense.
Visit any old Serbian cemetery in the States, read any church founder rolls, google any early-generation Serbian immigrant of note and you will find names spelled in a way that allows for their pronunciation to sound more organically Serbian, more correct. An Ivković that arrived to America in 1903 will adjust the written ending of the last name to sound Serbian rather than keep it only visually similar, while changing the pronunciation. So, he or she would substitute –ić for –itch or –ich, because the symbol ć does not exist in Latin alphabet the English language uses. Substituting ć for a c corrupts the last name and changes it. You may think it’s the same name, but if it’s not pronounced the same, it’s not the same.
In linguistics, it’s called transliteration. By definition, transliteration is the conversion of a text, including names, from one alphabet or script to another. Now, I’m not a linguist, but one doesn’t have to be an expert to know that one’s name is first spoken and then written down in a language of one’s choice, using the alphabet of that language to transcribe the name. In Serbian, you write your name according to the rules of the Serbian language. And the rules exist, so, no, it’s not up to you to adapt them to your needs. You may corrupt them, and no one can stop you, but that makes you illiterate. The same goes for English; you adapt the spelling to the pronunciation according to the existing rules.
Imagine if the Chinese or Arab immigrants decided not to adapt the spelling of their names, as they are pronounced, to the English language upon immigrating. Latin alphabet is just one of many world scripts and within it there is a multitude of varieties. When spelling a name of a non-English origin in English, one must use only the signs that English speakers can read, whether one is a Serb, Arab, Chinese or Armenian.
Imagine if the spelling of Michael Jordan’s name was not adapted to the Serbian alphabets. In the Serbian Latin alphabet, MJ’s name is spelled Majkl Džordan, so the Serbs can understand who we are talking about. The transliteration is even more needed with names whose English spelling contains symbols that don’t exist in any of the Serbian alphabets, like q, y or w. And this goes for English-to-Serbian, French-to-Serbian or Bengali-to-Serbian transliteration.
The ongoing misdirection and neglect partly came about after the World War II, when the Latin alphabet was imposed on the majority of Serbs. The Cyrillic alphabet was the script that dominated the literate parts of Serbdom for centuries. The Latin alphabet came to dominate after the Communist takeover in 1945. Its use in Serbia rapidly intensified through educational and commerical inclinations after the October Fifth coup in 2000. So, before 1945, a Serb from Herzegovina or Montenegro would have to transliterate his name from the Cyrillic script into the English Latin script, turning Ивковић most likely into Ivkovitch and preserving the essence of the name and its pronunciation. In more recent decades, a Bosnian Serb refugee would merely erase the diacritical mark in ć and be left with a c, perfectly acceptable in the English alphabet, but incorrect and transformative of the name. So, Ivković becomes Ivkovic, pronunciation ending in k, not ć. This changes the name completely. Thus, if we all still used Cyrillics in the Fatherland, upon coming to America we would have to look for transliteration solutions. Being accustomed to the Latin alphabet, we fall prey to the visual similarities and simply omit the differences that actually make sounds distinctive from one another, thus changing our own name.
A lot of Serbs I’ve debated this issue with throw the I-refuse-to-change-my-name argument at me. Well, by refusing to transliterate, you are actually changing your name. If I spell my last name in way that allows Anglophones to end it in –ick, guess what? Yes, I just changed my last name. If I spell it ending in –ich or –itch, I just preserved its Serbian form.
At the time when Serbian cultural institutions are paralyzed, to say the least, it is a small wonder that the people, left to their own devices, are going with the flow and simply letting this part of their cultural identity die, since, yes, the name is a crucial part of one’s identity. Most of the recent immigrant generations are guilty of this. It takes time and money to change one’s name and most of us decide to leave it alone. It’s a weak excuse though. Of course guidance by experts is needed to overcome this problem, but with that obviously lacking, people themselves can pay more attention and respect to the general rules of phonetics and linguistics that apply globally. I’m not about to prescribe transliteration rules for every Serbian name. First, as I said, I have no necessary expertise, and second, it is more important at this point to raise the issue than to debate solutions.
Author: Vladan Ivkovich
November 15th 2014 at Sv. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in NYC. Show starts at 10:00
Bitange i Princeza have performed in NYC before and rocked the crowd. Not your usual Narodna crowd. Their show brings out the best crowd, new and fun faces who rarely get to experience the Zabavna Rok music scene here in NYC. Come down and jam out with the band and have some drinks. The entrance is $15.
Bitange i Princeza is a Boston-based rock cover band, whose repertoire spans a wide range of songs from Ex-YU rock scene, including those of legendary bands like Bajaga i Instruktori, Riblja Corba, EKV, Partibrejkers, Zana, Generacija 5, Negative, Bijelo Dugme, Prljavo Kazaliste, Parni Valjak, and others. The band is comprised of versatile members with a wide mix of experiences, including a virtuoso from the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Together, they have played at various venues in New England, as well as NYC. Their concerts are perfect night for Yugoslavian nostalgic rock and roll lovers
The band members are:
Vladan Ristanovic (vocals, bass guitar).
Sandra Milenkovic (vocals).
Marko Stojkovic (guitar, vocals).
Vincent Bonnafous (drums).
Congratulations to Air Serbia for celebrating it’s first birthday. Air Serbia was created from the old and famous all of us know as JAT. We the help of Etihad Airlines, who own a 49 percent stake in the company, Serbia’s latest air transport company should be one of the top companies in Europe. One thing JAT had and Air Serbia does not as of yet, is flights to North America. Hopefully that should be on it’s way soon as they have recently been approved to fly into the United States. We would guess that John F. Kennedy in New York and Ohare in Chicago would be one of the first airports to welcome an Air Serbia aircraft. Some of Serbia’s finest even have planes named after them, such as Novak Djokovic and Vlade Divac. We wish Air Serbia a successful future.
Well, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. Novak Djokovic at 1st place of the BNP Paribas and Milos Raonic a close 2nd. Who do you even root for? Congratulations to Novak Djokovic winning his 600th match; we are sure the inspiration came from his newborn son Stefan Djokovic (come at me bro). Hopefully in the coming Grandslams we will see both of these players at the top more often, maybe even Raonic ranked #2 in the world right next to our old pal @djokernole.
October 22nd 2014 at 3:29 AM Novak Djokovic @DjokerNole tweeted
“Stefan, our baby angel was born! I am so proud of my beautiful wife Jelena! Thank you so much for your love and support. We love you all!!!”
Congrats to the Djokovic family. Everyone, especially the Serbian community is very proud of what Novak Djokovic has accomplished alongside his wife Jelena Ristic Djokovic. Stefan Djokovic was born in Nice, France on Tuesday the 21st.
“TOWER TO THE PEOPLE-Tesla’s Dream at Wardenclyffe Continues”
**SNEAK PREVIEW SCREENING**
O N E N I G H T O N L Y !
With a Special Performance by Emmy-Nominated Composer/Pianist MARINA ARSENIJEVIC
Please join us, along with cast members of our feature documentary about Nikola Tesla’s Wardenclyffe lab, for the first screening anywhere in the world of “TOWER TO THE PEOPLE-Tesla’s Dream at Wardenclyffe Continues!”
This sneak preview will take place at the historic New Yorker Hotel, where Nikola Tesla lived his last days. Afterwards, join us for a few surprises, while mingling with the cast, crew and special guests. For independent film & Tesla enthusiasts everywhere, this is an event not to be missed!
*Seating is limited, so advanced purchase is strongly recommended.
For tickets, please CLICK HERE
“TOWER TO THE PEOPLE-Tesla’s Dream at Wardenclyffe Continues”
Written by Joseph SIkorski & Michael Calomino
Nearly a century ago, Nikola Tesla dreamed of sending free wireless energy from a mysterious tower and lab on Long Island called Wardenclyffe. Deteriorating for decades, the remains of his great work were almost lost forever.
Until that is, a grateful world united to save it.
“TOWER TO THE PEOPLE- Tesla’s Dream at Wardenclyffe Continues” explores the genius inventor’s dream for Wardenclyffe, and shares the important story of how the last lab of Nikola Tesla was ultimately saved by various groups of dedicated people, using technology Tesla himself helped develop. From a local non-profit organization, to a popular web-comic known as ‘the Oatmeal’, to the generosity of people throughout the world, “TOWER TO THE PEOPLE-Tesla’s Dream at Wardenclyffe Continues” sheds light on the promising future of web-based philanthropic crowd-funding.
With an historic internet campaign to save his lab, a new feature film on the horizon, and growing international media attention, Nikola Tesla is transforming from cult-hero to mainstream icon. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of his life revolves around a small building in Shoreham, NY called Wardenclyffe. It is from here, Tesla had hoped to transmit free wireless energy to everyone on the globe. Destitute and without sponsors, Nikola Tesla was forced to abandon his dream. Almost a century later, a new generation picked up the torch, hoping to rescue the historic property from decay, and preserve it forever.
We invite you to experience the mysterious past, uplifting present, and exciting future of Nikola Tesla’s lab at Wardenclyffe. Featuring interviews with Penn Jillette, the Oatmeal’s Matt Inman, Peabody Award-Winner Jack Hitt and other distinguished guests. Music by Emmy-Nominated Composer Marina Arsenijevic. Directed by Joseph Sikorski.
WHAT YOU WILL EXPERIENCE:
INTERVIEWS • DRAMATIZATIONS • WIRELESS ENERGY DEMONSTRATIONS
• A WARDENCLYFFE TUNNEL INVESTIGATION
You will experience some of the lesser known history of Wardenclyffe, as well as the results of new research conducted during the course of our two and a half year production. Also presented will be iconic Tesla imagery, beautifully restored and in a resolution never seen before. And thanks to support from the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade and The Wardenclyffe Project, you will also be treated to some very rare photographs. Perhaps even more amazing, you will see Wardenclyffe tower as never before! Thanks to the contributions of the Belgrade Tesla Museum, expert architects and engineers help portray the most accurate rendering of the tower and cupola to date!
In addition, you’ll experience simple demonstrations of wireless energy and transmission concepts which help to illustrate scientific principles in easy-to-understand language. You’ll hear from some of the most respected voices in the Tesla community, be inspired by Wardenclyffe volunteers, and learn about three angel investors who, along with the generosity of the whole world, helped make the Oatmeal’s crowdfunding campaign a huge success. Additionally, you’ll gain insight into the mysterious Wardenclyffe tunnels that the enigmatic inventor built, and see the results of our recent Ground Penetrating Radar investigation!
“TOWER TO THE PEOPLE-Tesla’s Dream at Wardenclyffe Continues”
Written by Joseph Sikorski & Michael Calomino
PENN JILLETTE • MATTHEW INMAN (The Oatmeal) • JACK HITT • WILLIAM TERBO
DR. MARC J. SEIFER • GARY PETERSON • SEBASTIAN WHITE • JANE ALCORN • SLAVA RUBIN
& MANY MORE!
Featuring Music by Marina Arsenijevic
Directed by Joseph Sikorski
©2014, Fragments from Olympus, LLC